1550s, in reference to a people people of the northern Caucasus along the Black Sea, from Circassia, Latinized from Russian Cherkesŭ, which is of unknown origin. Their name for themselves is Adighe. Their language is non-Indo-European. The race was noted for the "fine physical formation of its members, especially its women" [Century Dictionary], who were much sought by neighboring nations as concubines, etc.
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